It’s International Women’s Day on March 8. It’s a global day that celebrates the many achievements of women, and where people come together to rally for women’s equality. To celebrate, Kingsway Mall has partnered up with Girls In Films and Television (GIFT) to produce seven videos that features inspiring women from Edmonton.
Ed spoke to Elise Leske, one of the students who was part of the project, via email.
Tell us about your work with GIFT.
EL: I originally started working with GIFT back in 2016. I was one of their guinea pigs — a student in their very first program. It’s safe to say that program changed my life. I’ve been learning from and working with GIFT ever since, and I was overjoyed when asked to assist on this project about International Women’s Day. For this specific shoot, I was involved in the on-set process; light and camera set up, notes on each interview and eventual tear-down. I also helped film b-roll (shots in which you see what the interviewee is discussing) around Kingsway Mall, and in a couple of the workplaces of the women we interviewed.
In your opinion, why was this project important?
EL: As a young femme person, I have been belittled or over-criticized or been taken not seriously more times than I can count. Creating a piece about women, where women are key in every step of the process — from the initial idea, to the filmmaking, to the editing room — is an incredibly important thing. The effects of a project like this are not only measured in the outcome and outreach, but in every single person involved along the way. I cannot begin to explain how having direct representation has changed my life and worldview. To be in a room with women who have been where you are, who have felt the frustration and pain of misogyny, but who have then turned around and demanded better, demanded they be listened to. To see these women be strong and capable and who you could be is powerful beyond words.
With projects like these, you aren’t just coming together and making a video or a film. Though that may be the purpose, what ends up happening is a beautiful sharing of ideas and hope. Every woman I met on set through the duration of this project was eager to share a helping hand, to pull someone else up and give them an opportunity they might not have had. There are connections forged in the space of women celebrating each other that change the course of someone’s life.
What do you think International Women’s Day is all about?
EL: International Women’s Day was never something talked about when I was a kid, or if it was, it seemed so unimportant, it flew under my radar. I want that to change. I was exposed to, and in turn, absorbed a large amount of internalized misogyny when I was younger. If I had been made more aware of what misogyny is, that may have been different. For me, International Women’s Day isn’t just a day about ‘women’ as this vague group; it’s a day of reflection and celebration of the personal journeys made by every single woman as an individual. March 8th reminds me to reach out and uplift others. Women are capable of anything, and I dream of a day when young girls don’t even think to question that.
Photos by Kirsten Quist